Introducing 'Jomo', the antidote to Fomo that's changing the way we travel

Hugh Morris
Off-the-grid holidays are growing in popularity - Borut Trdina

On the face of it, the simple antidote to Fomo - the self esteem-sapping phenomenon of the “fear of missing out” - is to not. Don’t miss out. Do it. Do everything.

Bucket lists, faultless Instagram fodder and footless, fancy-free millennials: they all fuel anxieties that someone somewhere is having a better time than you; and the only way to cure what ails you is to engage, compete and make sure that if someone’s going to suffer Fomo it sure as heck isn’t going to be you.

Until now. Introducing Jomo, Fomo’s kind sibling.

The concept of Jomo - the “joy of missing out” - is growing in popularity as a generation of young people raised on social media combat the negatives of living a life in full view of their peers, and one of the key areas of such anxieties is travel.

In terms of travel, Jomo has emerged as the trend of phoneless, off-the-grid getaways - disconnected from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, free from distractions and comparisons.

Euromonitor, a data analysis firm with a specialism in travel, identified Jomo as a key consideration for holidays in 2019.

Being glued to your phone on holiday can enable a feeling of fomo Credit: istock

“Consumers are resisting the ‘always-on’ mentality,” the firm said in an end of year report. “Desire to unplug is spurred by a need for authenticity, privacy and the enjoyment of face-to-face, live experiences.

It said that more and more tour operators were offering “alternative travel experiences… helping travellers disconnect from their everyday lives and enjoy detox experiences away from civilisation”.

At the core of Jomo is being happy where you are, not imagining how happy you might be elsewhere, in the same way that mindfulness is about a focus on being “in the moment”. It is about choosing what you want to do, where you want to go, as well as what and where you do not, and sorting the beneficial social interactions and engagements from the harmful.

While modern mindfulness has its origins in the Seventies, when health officials become more aware of mental and social wellbeing as well as physical, Jomo is a direct reaction to Fomo.

Analysis of Google Trends data shows that use of the term Fomo has grown exponentially since 2013. Indeed, in 2017, it was announced a national “resilience programme” would be rolled out across schools in the UK to help children cope with Fomo anxiety fuelled by social media.

Tracking the growth of Jomo in a similar manner is difficult, since Jomo is also the name of an airport in Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta International named after Kenya’s first president), skewing the results. The word was, however, included in Collins dictionary’s “words of the year” list in 2016, and thought to be the first ever acronym to make the list. Collins defined it as “pleasure gained from enjoying one’s current activities without worrying that other people are having more fun”.

Travel academics have long known the damage a mobile phone - the source of the majority of Fomo - can do to a trip away. From phones decreasing the amount of time spent outdoors and in nature to heightening the feeling of missing out in terms of what is happening back home.

How does a remote cabin in Alaska sound? Credit: istock

Studies on the positive effects of tourism in The Routledge Handbook of Health Tourism - which analyses the role of health and wellbeing and tourism and vice versa - noted that there were benefits in interacting with nature (Bimonte and Faralla, 2012, 2014), in warm outside temperatures (Nawijn, 2010; Strauss-Blasche et al., 2005), in pleasurable physical exercise (Strauss-Blasche et al., 2005; de Bloom et al., 2011) and a sense of freedom in daily activities (Strauss-Blasche et al., 2005).

All of these involve focusing on the present and what is happening around you, rather than elsewhere.

Amid all the buzzwords (looking at you, hygge) and acronyms, there’s a lot of noisy guidance about one should go about enjoying themselves on holiday.

But Jomo’s simple truth is to enjoy your holiday, and not worry about anyone else’s.

Tell us if you fear or find joy in 'missing out' on travel experiences, and why, in the comment section below. 

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